As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2021 offseason. The ones who spent most if not the entire year on the practice squad and what we can expect from them during training camp (hopefully) into the regular season.
Trevor Williams/CB – 5’11 191
Williams is arguably the most accomplished player inked to a futures contract after the Steelers’ season came to a disappointing end. Because of new NFL rules, veteran players who in the past wouldn’t have been eligible for the practice squad could be added. And Williams was able to take advantage of the opportunity.
A five-year veteran, the Steelers signed him to the roster late in the season, adding him on January 6th, three days after the regular season ended. He was last-minute depth after Joe Haden’s positive COVID test that would keep him out of action for the week of the playoffs and for the Wild Card game.
But let’s look back at where Williams started. After finishing up his college career at Penn State, he signed as a UDFA with the Chargers in 2016. He tested well at that year’s Combine, running a 4.44 40 with a 35.5 inch vert, 10’5″ broad, and 6.8 three cone time.
Williams made an immediate impact as a rookie, starting five games, recording 31 tackles, and breaking up five passes. His first INT came in 2017, finishing the year with two. His most notable pick came the following year, an 86 yard return against C.J. Beathard and the San Francisco 49ers. It was a bit of luck, the pass going through the tight end’s hands and bouncing into Williams’ arms, but a turning point play in a two-point Chargers’ win.
Things fell off for Williams after that. He suffered a knee injury later that year and missed the back half of the season. His 2019 season was cut short, placed on IR with a quad injury in September and then waived by the team a month later. His career quickly changed from something stable to becoming an NFL journeyman. His first stop was Arizona, claimed off waivers, but he appeared in just two games and didn’t register a tackle. 2020 was largely spent bouncing on and off the roster before he grabbed a cup of coffee, literally one week, with the Jacksonville Jaguars in December. Then Pittsburgh rang his agent in January.
As Dave Bryan and I have discussed on recent episodes of The Terrible Podcast, Williams may have a path to making the roster this summer. The CB room looks a lot weaker now than it did two months ago with the predictable loss of Mike Hilton and the surprising release of Steven Nelson. At slot corner especially, there isn’t much there. Cam Sutton can play there, of course, but after Nelson was shown the door, Sutton is going to play on the outside a lot more than we thought. Williams has inside/outside versatility, always a plus, and he’s a veteran competing with younger guys like James Pierre, Justin Layne, and whatever rookie(s) likely get brought in.
The guy has shown staying power in the league. He’s made some plays. It just feels like injuries have derailed his career. And if he can start fresh and find stable ground, maybe he can recreate that success.